This summer I attended our local homeschoolers’ conference and found out about Institute for Excellence in Writing. I’ll be posting about this excellent curriculum in the future. For now, I mention it because the IEW catalog is how I learned of the book, A Thomas Jefferson Education. I ordered it and was so impressed with it that I have completely reorganized my approach to home education.
However, even if you are not a homeschooler or not a parent at all, this book is worth a read! The exciting concept espoused in this book is:
All education is self-education. If we want to teach our children, we have to inspire them to learn rather than require them to learn. What would you have studied if you had the time? When I was a kid, I was crazy about medical books. I read the medical encyclopedia we had at home for fun! It’s entirely possible that had I been given more time to pursue my fascination with medicine, I would have become a doctor. Unfortunately, we treat learning as if it were such drudgery that we have to bribe students (or ourselves!) to do it. Learning is the most fun and exciting thing we can do! Sadly, Oliver DeMille points out that we tell students to learn what they want to learn "on their own time." As you know, few students have time to call their own between school and extracurricular activities. As a result, we miss out on the natural momentum that each child has.
Even if you have students in public or private school, you can greatly increase your child’s love of learning. You can also advocate that teachers and principals use the Thomas Jefferson education principles at school. If you have no children, you should also read this book and be inspired to begin the process of re-educating yourself. I have been thrilled as I’ve picked up classic books and begun to read. Mr. DeMille contends that the reading of such books not only entertains and teaches, but literally changes us. I couldn’t agree more! If you’re a Wonder Woman wannabe, you owe it to yourself to read this excellent book.
If you are a homeschooler wanting to learn how to implement these teaching principles, I highly recommend you purchase the George Wythe College Packages A & B here: www.writing-edu.com/order.
I’d like to briefly summarize how this approach has changed our schooling. First, it’s given me permission to continue to learn. In this philosophy, your own continuing education is equally as important as your children’s BECAUSE you are the one who will inspire your children to learn. For example, if you read a classic book that you love, you will rave about it and your children are more likely to want to read and discuss it with you.
Second, TJEd has given me permission to teach what I am interested in teaching. I no longer have to conform to the "conveyor belt" form of education. If I want to teach my children how to do photo editing because I love it, I can! If I want to take time to teach them how to make breakfast, I can do that, too! Rather than have my children spend an hour on workbooks, I now take that hour to teach what I want to teach.
Third, TJEd has given me permission to assist my children in learning what they want to learn. I talked with both of my older boys (in what TJEd calls the Love of Learning phase) about what they are interested in learning. My oldest was interested in learning about inventors and in music history. Who’da thunk? So I obtained books and curriculum on these subjects. He devoured the inventor books and the music history curriculum is so good the whole family is enjoying it (It’s called Listen to Learn by the way. I will do a separate post on this in the future). My oldest says that this year of school is "the best ever." He has spontaneously written two reports, complete with pictures, one of which he delivered as a speech because he wanted to! My second son has asked for permission to do MORE writing!
Fourth, TJEd has given me a completely different perspective on math. I browsed through the discussion boards at www.tjed.org and found the inspiring website www.livingmath.net. The resources I ordered via this website have turned math from something to be endured to something to be enjoyed. The kids are happy not doing pages of boring, repetitive problems and I’m happy because math is really, really fun! I now think of it as solving puzzles. We all think of it as a means of gaining respect and even money! I’ll post more about the resources I’ve found in the future.
For now, happy learning to you and yours!